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Think you’re getting a good night’s sleep? Well, there’s one way to tell with this device: the Sleeptracker. Lee Loree, developer of Sleeptracker, came up with the idea during the middle of the night. He woke up his wife and tried to have a conversation with her. The next morning, she remembered waking up, but not the conversation. That’s when he came up with a cognitive test. He’d wake her up, record the time, ask her simple questions like how old she is and who is the current President, to see the change in her attitude. That’s basically what the Sleeptracker does: it monitors and records your sleep, except that it looks for motion such as tossing and turning.
After meeting with manufacturers in Hong Kong to design the unit and software engineers in Russia, his 6-month goal was to sell 5 units and bring 100 to 150 users to the product web site. However, Gizmodo got wind up the device and blogged about it, in turn creating huge buzz: 150 units were sold in the first 2 days!
So does the Sleeptracker really work? Myself, along with two other colleagues sought to find out.
How it Works: Humans go through a series of sleep cycles. The first and the last cycles are usually the lightest of sleep. The Sleeptracker records how many almost-awake moments you experienced during those cycles, and the average time between them. So, you may find that one night you had 12 almost awake times with an average of 26 minutes between them. Breaking it down, that may mean you sleep for 1 hour, then wake up, then sleep for 17 minutes, then wake up, then sleep for 20 minutes, then wake up, and so on and so on.
The Design: The watch has four buttons located on each side of the watch. The upper left controls the settings and backlight; the lower left lets you adjust the settings after you press Set; the upper right is the Mode button for many functions including Time, Alarm, Alarm Window, To Bed, and Data Review; the lower right button is used to Set the functions.
The idea is to set the To Bed time a half hour after you go to bed (when you think you’ll be asleep), the Alarm (what time you’re waking up), and the Window (timeframe you want the watch to wake you before your alarm). Then put on the watch and wait until the next morning for the alarm to sound!
Jennifer DeLeo, Assistant Editor: I’ve never been a morning person, so that’s why I was excited to try out the Sleeptracker, because I’ve always wanted to know if I’m really getting a good night’s sleep or not. What I discovered after using the Sleeptracker for a total of 10 days is that I’m not as heavy as a sleeper as I thought I was! My total average awake time from the 10 days was a horrible 24 minutes and 37 seconds. This means that I had an almost-awake moment about every 24 minutes. Generally, females average around the high 20s to low 30s, so I definitely do not belong to the majority of good sleepers. Using the device was fun, since I was looking forward to the next day to find out if I slept well or not; that way I could at least know how the rest of the day was going to be! But you can imagine my excitement when I achieved an average of 30 minutes on a Wednesday night!
When I first started using the device, I’d set the window of time for either 10 or 20 minutes. I found that it was waking me up earlier than it should (or perhaps than I wanted to), so I left the window of time at zero. I wasn’t sure if wearing the watch was going to bother me at night, but I didn’t really notice a difference. (In fact, I’d wear it as a regular watch during the day!)
What I thought was very interesting about the sleeping process after looking back at my data was that sometimes it didn’t matter how early I went to bed; that didn’t mean I was going to have a better time. For instance, I went to bed on a Mon night at 10:55 pm and averaged 24 minutes; on Tues night, I went to bed at 11:33 pm and averaged a better time of 26 minutes.
Yun Tsai, Senior Producer: Compared to my colleagues, I’m the best sleeper! This didn’t surprise me though because I’ve always know that I was a heavy sleeper. My best night of rest came on a Wed night, where I was sound asleep about every 52 minutes! I probably would have slept even better, but my dog occassionally will jump on my bed, waking me up.
Overall, it was definitely a great experience for me to learn about my sleeping patterns and confirm the fact that I’m a great sleeper!
Mark Lamorgese, Producer: I’d say it’s a great device for keeping track of your general sleeping habits. You can analyze your data each day and compare the amount you slept with what you did, ate, or drank last night and definitely see results. For example, on nights where I was out drinking, there were much longer gaps of sleep (less waking up) than regular nights (yes this means NOT drinking). I could definitely see changes depending on what was going on the day before. Sometimes I felt like it recorded me waking up more than I did, and my guess is it was from tossing and turning. If you move your hand to under your pillow, it might sense that as being awake.
The alarm function didn’t work as well as I hoped it would. I was hoping it would wake me up at a “better” time depending on how deep my sleep was, but it seemed to almost always wake me up at the earliest alarm setting. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bit more awake in the morning, but I was hoping the function would work a little better. Actually more than half the reason I wanted to try it was for this waking up feature, so maybe I was a bit more let down than others.
Overall I think it’s a good idea, and will work decent if used long-term. After a couple of days I was very in tune to how my sleeping was, rather than “I’m just tired.” So the device is a good start. And it was interesting to see how long my almost-awake moments lasted, which was almost always in the high 20′s. Males generally have a lower average than females, in the low to mid 20 minutes. My only suggestion would be to somehow have it better sense how asleep you are. Arm movements shouldn’t necessarily count as being awake to me.
The Sleeptracker isn’t exactly fashionable, I know, but Loree is currently developing more colors and a more “female-friendly” band, since the current model is a bit large for female’s wrists. The Sleeptracker sells for $149.
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